NA was in the spotlight this weekend.

18:30, 23 Nov 2020

With Europe taking a short break before The Grid kicks off in the middle of the week, North America was the focus for this weekend. Although there weren't as many high-profile matchups between the top teams, the middle of the pack really showed up and impressed. Most notably, NRG and Spacestation Gaming were the victims of some massive upsets, rendering a championship rematch impossible. The field is really heating up as teams began their path through this double-elimination tournament. 

5) North America Regional Upper Bracket Round 2 - G2 vs Soniqs

This series wasn't close. But that's the point. G2 almost completed the perfect sweep after only conceding a single goal in the series. Even though it wasn't a close series, it was still entertaining to watch G2 playing so well. One of the most notable results over the weekend was NRG's and Spacestation Gaming's surprising losses which left the upper bracket wide open for the taking. This was G2's only showing this weekend, but if they can continue this form of play going forward, they have a clear path to the finals. Their next matchup will be against eUnited, and if they win, against the winner of Rogue/Version1. With NRG and SSG not looking like themselves, this is a perfect chance for G2 to prove they can win in bigger matches than the Grid after failing to win a regional or a major in the fall. 

4) North America Regional Lower Bracket Round 2 - SSG vs XSET

This series finished 3-1 in favour of Spacestation Gaming, but it was much closer than that. Every single game went to overtime despite Spacestation's repute as one of the best in the game. It would be unfair to say this was simply a bad weekend for SSG. Without a doubt, they looked flat, but credit should be given to XSET. They had already completed a reverse sweep against Sippin' Ice Cubes, as well as a Game 5 victory over Sol in the first round of the lower bracket. Teams like XSET have continuously become more and more threatening to the elite teams in the region. This could definitely be a warning sign for SSG as they have a long road to the finals from here. They will have to be flawless to redeem themselves, but they are certainly capable of it. XSET should be proud of their performance despite falling just a little bit short. They only allowed SSG to score five goals over four games, never losing a single game by more than one. 

3) North America Regional Lower Bracket Round 1 - BoSF vs Crimson Wings

One of the great things with Europe taking the weekend off is being able to more carefully examine some of the teams that don't get the attention they deserve. This series was incredibly entertaining, with Crimson Wings barely fending off the reverse sweep with a brace from Nicholas "Wonder" Blackerby in Game 5. Crimson Wings was able to take the first two games of the series, but just barely, with both only having a one-goal difference. BoSF was able to score seven goals in the next two games to force a decisive Game 5. Wonder was able to score his first goal early, and his team was up to the task of protecting that lead. 

This was the first RLCS match for the reunion of Wonder and Season 6 Flyquest teammate, Ronin "primethunder" D'auria. They had a pretty solid debut weekend, and along with BoSF, these teams should be noticed going forward. They don't look too far away from breaking into consistent middle of the table finishes if they can develop their play just a little bit further. 

2) North America Regional Upper Bracket Round 2 - NRG vs Ghost Gaming

No list would be complete for this weekend without discussing this match. This was truly a back and forth series as neither team won more than a single game in a row. After the back and forth nature of the match forced a Game 5, it felt destined to go to overtime. The match was obviously a huge win for Ghost who secured a spot in the Winner's Quarterfinals, but it was more than an upset win to keep their hopes alive for another day. It was a statement. Jack "mectos" Privitera looks like a great addition for the squad. Along with this win over NRG, earlier in the day Ghost had swept 72PC. Ghost Gaming finished 16th in the Fall Split, but they are already well on their way for pushing towards top ten. Meanwhile, NRG is in the same boat as SSG - play flawlessly, or you're out. No second lives now. They are capable, but it will be a tough road as they have to win five more series to make it to the finals. 

1) North America Regional Upper Bracket Round 2 - Version1 vs Spacestation Gaming 

This was the first major upset of the weekend, and arguably one of the most consequential going forward. Version1 had a rough Fall Split, but they came out swinging this weekend. A 3-0 sweep over Continuum leading into the series and this win over SSG is a major turnaround for Version1. Sure, that victory over Continuum would be expected, but definitely not over SSG. Version1 placed 18th in the Fall Split and decided to make a change, bringing in Robert "comm" Kyser for the new split, and it is already paying dividends. Jesus "gimmick" Parra hit a nasty shot into the top corner to finish off the series in the Game 5 to move to the Winner's Quarterfinals. If they can put up a few more results, it will be easy to get wrapped up in hype about this team fulfilling their potential. 


Images via Liquipedia | @RLEsports

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